MBS alumna Dr. Louise van der Does ’87, whose artwork is currently on display in the Phoebe Stiles King ’49 Gallery in the Math & Science Center, spoke with Laurie Hartman’s Art 3 class on Thursday, December 1 about her inspiration, her experience as an artist, and how she balances her love of painting with her full-time career as a research consultant.
“I am a statistician by day; painter by night,” said Dr. van der Does. “True to my Dutch roots, one of my favorite subjects is the tulip. Though my botanical paintings are largely representational, I try to capture the forms and rhythmic movement in nature through the play of light and vivid colors.”
Over the past two years, Dr. van der Does has also been exploring a wide variety of abstract styles and techniques. “This foray into abstraction pushed me to paint a more stylized version of botanicals,” she explained. “While the subject may still appear similar to the natural state, I highlighted or simplified the lines and shapes for dramatic effect. I also altered or intensified colors and created more contemporary compositions to capture emotion and energy.”
During her two-year journey into abstraction, she has also rediscovered her own work by using a photography technique that her art idols — Paul Strand and Georgia O’Keeffe — also used: zooming and cropping. “I was inspired by a project in Laurie Hartman’s art class that challenged us to look at a common object from an uncommon perspective,” she said. “As I magnified sections of my botanicals, the compositions became increasingly more abstract, and often, increasingly interesting.”
At MBS, Dr. van der Does was an athlete as well as an artist. She played three sports for the Crimson (field hockey, basketball, softball) and went on to play field hockey for Trinity College, where she was the four-year starting goalkeeper and captain and MVP during her senior year. She was inducted into the Morristown Beard School Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.